Moussa's and Aïcha's Story
Providing protection services to vulnerable families in North Cameroon
Moussa Modu and his little sister Aïcha have lost everything.
Together with his mother, Marinatou – who was pregnant with Aïcha at the time - Moussa was forced to flee his village of Banki in Nigeria two years ago, seeking safety in a refugee camp in Cameroon.
A few months later, Marinatou stumbled when collecting water and the 25 litre container fell on her leg, fracturing her bones.
While at hospital, doctors discovered that she was suffering from a chronic illness.
She was referred to the regional hospital in Maroa, where she underwent surgery. She was unable to take care of Moussa or Aïcha, to cook, wash, or collect water for them – and she soon sank into depression.
“My children were with a neighbour, but they weren’t being properly looked after,” Marinatou said at the time. “We felt rejected by the whole community because nobody cared about us. On some occasions, our monthly rations were stolen so my children had to go for days without food or washing.”
The Far North Region of Cameroon remains heavily affected by deteriorating insecurity, which has led to a mass displacement of people within the region as well as a large influx of Nigerian refugees from across the border.
International Medical Corps is on the ground, providing emergency support to crisis-affected communities in the north of the country and protection services to vulnerable families, with support from the European Union.
One day, Eliane Nadia Ebah Mbida – one of International Medical Corps social workers - visited Marinatou at the hospital.
“When I visited her, she had lost a lot of weight,” Eliane recalls. “I referred her to International Medical Corps’ health post where she could see a psychiatrist, as well as a doctor to check on her foot, which she told me had been hurting since surgery.”
Meanwhile, Aïcha and her brother were placed in a temporary home where they could receive clothing, soap and food. The little girl was also treated for malnutrition.
Sadly, the worst was yet to happen.
While recovering from her injury, Marinatou's health declined and she succumbed to Tuberculosis.
The International Medical Corps social worker immediately ensured that Aïcha, who had not been registered at birth, was registered and given refugee status, giving her access to different forms of assistance, including medical care and nutrition services.
“We are now facilitating the process that will allow them to live with their paternal uncle, who is in the same camp,” Eliane says.
International Medical Corps’ team continues to visit the children regularly, providing psychosocial support and counselling to them and their new family.
“The management of this case, although extremely difficult, has been very rewarding for me as a social worker. We were able to save the life of little Aïcha who was suffering from acute severe malnutrition. We also supported Marinatou during the terminal phase of her illness.